Almost a week after she was shot in the knee during the Aurora, Colo., “Batman” movie massacre, 18-year-old Bonnie Kate Pourciau arrived by private plane Thursday afternoon in Baton Rouge.
“It feels good,” she said. “I can’t wait to see my brothers and sisters.”
Pourciau’s six younger siblings were ecstatic to have her home safe, said her sister Madeline Pourciau, 17.
“On our way to the hospital, my brother was saying, ‘You know, this day could be totally different. We could be going to her funeral right now,’ ” Madeline Pourciau said. “It’s an amazing blessing she’s OK.”
Accompanied by two nurses, Pourciau and her parents flew on an air ambulance from a Denver hospital to Baton Rouge.
Pourciau was hooked up to intravenous tubes and was receiving care the entire trip, said pilot Jim Johnson, of Areocare, a Chicago-based air ambulance company.
Pourciau’s father is a district sales manager for Medtronic, which paid for the private plane.
“It’s a flying ICU,” Johnson said.
Emergency medical technicians greeted Pourciau on the Baton Rouge Metro Airport tarmac shortly after 2:30 p.m. and lifted her into a stretcher, then loaded her into an ambulance to bring her to the hospital.
As she was wheeled across the tarmac, Pourciau said she was thankful for the care she has experienced.
“I’m doing great, they took such good care of me,” she said. “I’m just so overwhelmed with gratitude.”
Pourciau was one of 70 people shot early Friday during what turned out to be one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history. Twelve people died in the rampage.
While on a cross-country road trip, Pourciau and her friend, Elizabeth Sumrall, 23, also of Baton Rouge, stopped by chance in Aurora to catch the midnight premiere of the “The Dark Knight Rises.” It is latest installment in a series of “Batman” movies starring actor Christian Bale, who like President Barack Obama, visited the survivors of the shootings.
A few minutes into the movie, a gunman whom police identified as James Holmes, 24, threw tear-gas canisters in the front row of the theater before unloading his assault rifle into the audience, killing at least 12 people and injuring 58 others.
Pourciau and Sumrall were going to sit in the seats right where the tear-gas canisters exploded, but had decided to watch the movie from the back of the theater instead.
When the shooting started, both girls crouched under their seats and prayed, “Lord please help us, please keep us safe,” Sumrall said.
A bullet lodged in Pourciau’s knee. Sumrall was not injured in the shooting.
A man in an adjoining theater helped Pourciau escape the building since she could not walk. Pourciau then used the man’s cellphone to call her mother.
Right away, Pourciau’s father, Trace Pourciau, rushed into his second-eldest daughter’s room to tell her.
“He was like, ‘Bonnie Kate was in an accident. There was a guy with some grenades and guns and she was shot in the knee,’” said Madeline Pourciau, 17. “I was just in a daze; my mind was just like, ‘What is going on?’ It was a weird, weird feeling. It’s still surreal.”
While her parents were in Denver, Madeline Pourciau watched over her five younger siblings. She said family friends brought them food for every meal.
“We have food coming out of our ears, but it is really a blessing,” said Madeline Pourciau.
Pourciau’s mother, Kathleen Pourciau, said it felt good to be home.
“We are completely delighted to be back in town and just thrilled to be around the rest of our family and our church and our friends,” she said. “We’re so thankful.”
Pourciau is expected to undergo more surgeries on her knee in the upcoming weeks. Doctors expect her to eventually recover enough to be able to walk, but it will likely be many months, said Madeline Pourciau.